The utilisation of an organisational value profile and evolution to excellence framework as elements in creating a high performance organisation in the new economy : an investigation into Absa Life

Stiglingh, Etienne Jacques (2010-12)

Thesis (MBA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.


The world is constantly changing, creating a new environment and challenging businesses, societies and countries with unpredictable and volatile economic currents on a global scale. The new economy is the big second wave of change that will stay with us for the next century. People and organisations that want to participate in the new economy have to adapt to the new rules of the game or become extinct. Speed, agility, reliability, knowledge and networking globally are some of the skills necessary to survive, in this changed world. Values and strategy execution are critical elements in the quest to become a high-performing organisation in the new economy. Strategy in organisations is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities. Whilst a brilliant strategy can put you on the map, only a solid execution process will keep you on the map and competitive. Most organisations set the vision and strategy, but do not set the operational requirements executing the strategic objectives. The new economy represents a historic shift in values, a new paradigm from which people in organisations cannot separate themselves if they want to stay relevant in the new economy. Transforming organisational values from the old economy to the new economy is a challenge – primarily a leadership challenge. Absa (Amalgamated Banks of South Africa), a leading financial services organisation in South Africa and part of the global financial service group, Barclays, offers life insurance to its customers, through its subsidiary Absa Life. Absa Life is the target audience for this research study. In the group, Absa Life contributes almost six per cent to the total earnings of the Absa Group. The organisation embarked on a strategy, in 2008 to become a top-five life insurer in South Africa by 2012. ‘Big hairy audacious goals’ (BHAG’s) were set and the 230 members of the Absa Life team at the time bought into the vision and strategy. For Absa Life to reach the stretched goals the leadership team has to take note of important elements of a high-performance organisation. This research study assesses the current value profile of Absa Life, the organisation. The researcher utilises an instrument, the Beehive questionnaire, developed by the Village Leadership Consulting for the value profile assessment. A valid sample, including all job levels and divisions in Absa Life formed the target audience for this questionnaire. The questionnaire (electronic survey format) benchmarks the Absa Life value profile against the old and new economy value profiles. The researcher uses the results of the Beehive questionnaire and the Evolution to Excellence framework, to highlight the organisational and leadership challenges and recommend best practices for Absa Life leadership team. The Absa Life leadership team will determine their readiness, embracing these challenges and will be the team that is responsible for the survival of Absa Life in the 21st century or not.

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